For a show about near-death experiences where every moment should hold a tension-filled reminder of mortality, “I’m Alive” is bizarrely dull. No other network on earth could turn the screams of a fatal spider bite victim into sleep-inducing lullabies as effectively as Animal Planet.

“I’m Alive!”

Fridays at 9 p.m.
Animal Planet

“I’m Alive” focuses on individuals who have had extreme, dangerous and life-threatening experiences with creatures like black widows, charging elephants and sharks. The survivors give interviews along with family or friends who were present at the attack.

Scattered through these interviews, which are usually just statements of how painful, scary and worrying the whole affair was, are dreadfully shot reenactments using doubles so unrecognizable to their real-life counterparts that even if they were wearing matching shirts, it would still be difficult to tell who is supposed to be whom. Nametags would remedy the whole problem, and in truth, couldn’t possibly take away from the quality of the show.

A good portion of these reenacted scenes are close-ups of different actors’ eyes as well as strange shaking shots of bathroom walls, elbows and up-close pieces of individual’s faces. Sometimes close-ups of interviewee’s eyes will jump to close-ups of their double’s eyes before the camera moves on to someone else’s forehead (it is difficult to tell whose).

“I’m Alive” has a definite case of the wandering cameraman. Between the bad acting of the mystery doubles and the terrible cinematography of both cut scenes and interviews, it’s exceptionally tricky to tell what’s going on. Added to this whole mess are strange fact cards that linger on screen for what seems like five minutes. No one reads that slowly. Clearly these are devices used to soak up a little bit of the show’s extra time and remove any chance of the show building suspense.

The ending is perhaps the worst portion of “I’m Alive.” Shots of a hand brushing through grass (please don’t be confused, this is not a review of “Gladiator”) as the victim nears death are followed soon after by scenes of the victim’s life afterward (presumably to show how much he had to live for). Home videos of him playing the trumpet in a high school band room and dyeing eggs for Easter are moments of his life no one cares to see. If he’s not at least struggling for life, there is absolutely no incentive to watch the show.

All in all, the show simply lacks any sort of flow. Each sentence spoken is interrupted at least three or four times by fact cards, reenactments and even sound effects. Television is naturally always broken up by commercial breaks, which means the TV producers’ main challenge is helping viewers forget that the commercials ever interrupted. Instead, “I’m Alive” breaks up the show to the extent that viewers feel the need for a recap after returning from commercials.

Ultimately, “I’m Alive” is dreadfully dull and poorly executed, capturing little if any of viewers’ attention, and it offers none of the potential excitement an elephant attack should provide.

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